Scotti Hill of
How you doing?
What’s going on?
Listening to the new disc while waiting on your call.
I was on the phone with Australia, it took a little longer than I thought. So what’s shakin brother?
Enjoying the new album. Great disc, I’m impressed with it.
I appreciate that man. We’re getting mixed reviews, just like we figured. I’m happy with it. It was a lot of fun to make and we got what we wanted.
What have you been doing the last few years since THICKSKIN came out?
We did a lot of touring over the past couple of years and thats basically been it. Touring and getting together and do some writing on our own down time and stuff like that, all that shit. We’re just touring, writing, hanging out, kickin it. Nothing major.
I saw you guys in London Ontario, in 2003, with Poison and Vince Neil.
That was a fun tour. We actually toured with Vince 2 years in a row so we got to know him pretty well. He’s an awesome guy. Awesome dude.
In the past you’ve had some amazing ballads like “I Remember You” and “18 And Life” . How come you chose not to include any on the new album?
(laughs) You’re the first person to ask me that. I thought nobody noticed. We didn’t really feel like it. The theme of the record is kinda just put out there, whjat we felt like putting out there, and I guess we weren’t really in the mood for doing a ballad. We said screw it at the last minute. We were like there’s no ballad for this record, should we write one? Nah, screw it. We like what’s on there. The motto of the band is just do the shit we like and hope everyone else does too. Not taking away from those ballads we’ve done in the past. There’ll be certainly more of them, it just wasn’t on the cards for this album.
There is a bit of diversity on the album, a bit of punk and even some country at the beginning of “You Lie”.
(laughs) For the most part the band, I’ll speak for myself, Rachael and Johnny, we all like old fashioned country music. That song, Rachael bought it in and was like check this song out, we got to do something with it, and he started playin and singing it. It was obviously a country song, we’re like we should do that, who says we can’t? We can do whatever we want, lets record it man, it sounds like fun. It was a lot of fun to record. I think it’s a cool song. I enjoy playing it and all that stuff. Like I said before, the records all over the place, it’s got a bit of everything on it. I think that may rub some people the wrong way, some people dig it ya know. It’s just what we felt like doing.
So the country thing never had anything to do with Johnny’s Texas roots?
No. You know I think it’s funny, because people will be like “Oh no, Johnny is turning them country!”. I think he did it justice because of where he comes from. He’s basically a good ol’ boy with Texas pride. He’s got a voice for that kind of thing, he can pull it off really good. We tried to make the first half sound as authentic as we could before it kicks into the heavy stuff. It worked out good. I love the song. I loved playing it. I don’t think we’re gonna do it live. It was fun to record.
What prompted you guys to cover “Strength” by The Alarm? That’s an out there choice.
Ya for sure. It’s funny we were touring about 2 years ago in England, and we went out for dinner one night a couple of hours before the show and we were talking about cover tunes to record because we wanted to put a cover tune on the record. Out of the blue Johnny just mentioned that song. I’m like “dude, I remember that song. It’s really cool”. We got a copy of it and started listening to it. We’re like lets demo it and see what it sounds like. We did a demo of it and it turned out real good so we decided to put it on the record. You know a lot of people don’t know it’s a cover? I guess I’m older than I thought. People are like “That’s a cool song”. I’m like “You know it’s a cover, right?” A lot of people didn’t know that. There you have it; The Alarm from….. I think it was recorded in 1983 or something like that.
It was on one of their earlier albums.
It was. Those guys had some great tunes actually.
A friend of mine didn’t know it was a cover either and said “Strength” was one of the best tracks on the album.
He didn’t know it was a cover either?
Nope he never.
I wish we could take credit for it but we can’t. (laughs) I don’t remember where we found the version we learned it from. I remember it wasn’t easy to find. I don’t know if ITunes has it, or what the deal is. We got it from somewhere and learned it. I hadn’t heard it in years and got a copy of it. I guess it has been awhile.
It was definately the 80’s. I believe it was just after the “68 Guns” album.
I heard that song “Spirit Of 76” on the radio the other day and I was like that’s a great song too, but it’s like 10 minutes long or something like that.
The band took a lot of flack for THICKSKIN but with REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE a lot of fans seem to be coming back onboard. Was there any concious decision to try and win them back?
No, really. Like I was saying before you can only do it the way we know how to do it and people like it. That’s super cool. There’s never going to be pleasing everybody. Some people refuse to like it because it’s not the original line up. Some just don’t want to like it, some want to like it but are just disappointed. You can’t please everybody, so we just try to go with we like this kind of music, we like that kind of music, so lets record it, if it turns out good it makes the record. If we really wanted to please certain fans we would’ve put a ballad on there. We just have to do it the way it feels right for us. It just didn’t feel right this time. The next record is going to be all ballads. (laughs).
Ballads and cover tunes!
Nothing but ballads and cover tunes! Cover tunes you never heard before.
Any tracks left on the cutting room floor that may surface as B-sides?
No, everything we recorded went on the record. As a matter of fact we put “You Lie” on the record twice. (laughs). We couldn’t decide which mix to use. We said fuck it. Lets do it twice.
I saw that on my copy with “You Lie” and then “You Lie” as a bonus track.
I’m doing interviews and people are like “It’s like that on the record?”. I’m like “Oh yeah it is”. If I’m going to listen to it I want to hear both mixes.
Many fans found it a bit blashphomous that you recorded a punked up version of “I Remember You” on THICKSKIN. Do you regret doing that?
No fucking way! Here’s what I have to say to those people. If you don’t like it then write your own song and cover it. Period. Fuck it dude, it’s tongue in cheek all in good fun. It’s nothing against the original “I REMEMBER YOU”. It’s just something we thought would be fun to do, and I don’t have any regrets. We currently play both versions, we’ll always play the original version. It’s a really great song, it turned out really good on the first record. We just like to do things we think are fun and give ’em a try and see what happens. We’re fully aware that people aren’t going to like it. Start your own band and do it your own way. (laughs)
Personally I was skeptical on the new singer until I saw you guys live. Then I saw he is a good singer.
That’s always good to hear. I’ve watched Johnny record every track on this record and he wasn’t in the booth for any longer than an hour for any one of them. He smoked it and I found that inspiring. He’s a great singer. I’m proud to be in a band with him. Some people just can’t get over the fact that it’s not the original line up. You think about it, the original line up was a guy named Charlie Mills on drums, a guy named Jimmy Uhas in my spot and a guy named Matt Fallon in Sebastian’s spot. So if you want the original line up we could always do that. I’ll kick myself out of the band.
The first 2 discs are considered metal classics. Do you feel any pressure to live up to that?
I’m just flattered to hear you mention them as classic. Living up to something you did 20 years ago I think is next to impossible. We’re not trying to top SLAVE TO THE GRIND, we’re not trying to do anything like that. We’re just trying to have fun being in a band. My attitude about it is I still have the same excitement about it as when we were a garage band. It’s something we did in the past that we’re proud of and it’ll always be there. We need to move on and do what we like to do. It would be pointless to try and chase that stuff.
Is there any significance to the cover and title? The artwork is pretty simple.
(laughs) I tell ya what, if you look at Skid Row album covers over the years, they’re all out there in their own way. We like cars, we like hot rods, we like all that kind of stuff. Everything’s all kind of tied in together.
OK. I was curious if it had to do with Rachael’s love of motorsports or the RPM of an LP.
It’s kind of a play on words. You can look at it many different ways. I like to look at it as this is our own new revolution. Life is blowing by fast, jump on this shit while you still can.
What is the band’s immediate plans?
Well we’re going to go and do some shows with Kings X and Nashville Pussy in November. When that’s over and we get the holidays out of the way, we’ll start up again early next year. Go to Europe, Japan, Australia, of course the States, Canada. As a matter of fact we will be in Toronto in early November.
Any plans for Eastern Canada next summer?
Ya sure man. There’s a lot of cities we haven’t been to in a long time.
I know SKID ROW has never been to Newfoundland.
No we haven’t. I’d like to see it up there. Unfortunately when we get to play anywhere we never get to see it. We usually see a parking lot. “Yeah I saw a nice parking lot in Newfoundland.” Ya got in the bus and left. You don’t really get to see much but it would be really nice to get up there.
Any plans to release the old home videos like OH CAN YOU SCREAM and ROADKILL on DVD?
There’s been really no talk about that. We are going to release another DVD eventually. The old stuff…. I haven’t seen that stuff in years, I don’t even know where my copies are. It’s just something that hasn’t crossed my mind so you caught me off guard on the answer to that. It’s a possibility. That would involve a lot of record label bullshit with people we’re not associated with anymore. I’m just a dumb guitar player bro! I don’t pay any attention to that shit. (laughs)
With the 20 year anniversary coming up next year and the 20th anniversary of the first album a couple of years time, is there a chance of even one reunion show of that first album band?
No. (laughs). I would have to say no. It’s not something we’re interested in doing. Like Rachael puts it, there’s a lot of rock’n’roll to go around. Sebastian’s out doing his own thing and by all means go see him. They guy is good at what he does. As far as getting together and playing in a room….. Ican only speak for myself and I’m not really into the idea. My knee jerk reaction would have to be no. (laughs)
I guess you got asked that a bit.
You know what? It’s required asking in an interview and I understand why of course.
Anything planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary mark?
I been celebrating every day for the past 20 years. I don’t know how I can celebrate anymore.
With Sebastian out there in the mainstream, do you feel he’s overshadowed SKID ROW a bit, despite the fact that you’ve released 2 CD’s of original material in the past 4 years to basically his one in the past 8?
Well I think he’s maybe more of a pop-culture figure. Something like that in the public eye. Right on! Good for him. The only thing I can do is focus on what I’m doing. The past is the past, we made some great records together and all that stuff. I need to focus on the task at hand and that’s continuing to have fundoing what I’m doing and what I been doing. That’s my only concern really.
Do you have any contact with the old drummer ROB AFFUSO?
Oh yeah. He comes down and stays with me a couple of times a year. We catch up on old times and stuff, we’re really good friends, he’s taken vacation at my house a few times. We remained good friends and he’s doing really well.
What is he doing now?
He runs an entertainment company. They do entertainment for corporate events, for example American Express, things like that he’ll provide entertainment for and take a commission. He lives in upstate NY, he got horses and all that stuff. He looks exactly the same. My wife is nodding her head right now. He still looks like he just stepped right off the beach.
Phil Varone was in the band, then he was out, then back again, now he’s gone again.
He came back because we had some shows we had to do and we didnt have anybody to play at the moment, so he came back and did some shows with us. It wasn’t intended to be a permanent thing. He came back and helped us out. He wants to persue a career in stand up comedy, and I can speak first hand that he’s a funny motherfucker dude! He’s really funny, kept me laughing for a few years out there.
How do you think the music business has changed over the years?
I think there is a lot of opportunity for bands that don’t need to sell millions of records to be successful now, because unsigned bands can have access through outlets like MySpace and their personal websites. I think it’s awesome. I like how the music business has become a smaller homegrown type of thing. Independant labels and smaller labels, its really good. It gives people the opportunity to hear the music they want to hear not what they are forced fed by a radio station or televison station. If you want to go out and find unsigned bands that are playing great music, it’s not more than a few clicks away on your computer.
The best ones are not usually signed to major labels.
HaHa! Don’t even get me going there on that shit. They’re gonna want you to look and sound like the band that’s selling records today. The shelf life of major label bands is one record. That’s it. If they get a 2nd chance they’re lucky.
Here today, gone later today!
Oh my God it’s not even funny how bad it is. Who can decide what kind of music they like when it’s not even around long enough for them to do it again.
What are you listening to yourself these days?
I listen to whatever my mood strikes me to put in the CD player or the IPod. It’s like food man, I don’t wake up and eat steak and I don’t wake up and listen to Slayer, I save that til maybe noon (laughs). The last album I got was Hank The Third and I love it, I think it’s brilliant, he made a great country record thats a kick in the teeth.
The STRAIGHT TO HELL one?
Yeah, its fuckin great. It’s about all my favourite things. Not like in the music business, getting high and partying. That’s it man, pretty cool.
When I met you in London back in 2003, you had a Los Straightjackets shirt on, and I never knew who the hell they were until I got home and looked them up.
Were you surprised?
I love that band.
Now I got a few of their albums.
It’s great isn’t it? It’s like listening to the Ventures or something, it’s pure guitar. It’s surf music man. I listen to it in my car when I’m driving, it’s fun. Right before I moved out of New Jersey, a couple of days before I moved out they came through and I went to see them, that’s where I got that shirt.
I’d like to see them.
They’re really good. You know what’s hilarious?I think they’re from Nashville or something like that, but when they perform they speak Spanish.So the guy does all his raps in Spanish. It’s great man and they wear the masks of course and stuff.
Thanks for turning me onto that band.
Well good man, I’m glad dude. Once again, you go home, you Google it you find some music, you download it and you’re good to go.
And go buy the record.
I buy all my music off ITunes. I’m not saying I never got anything for free before. Nowadays it’s to much trouble.I’d rather pay 99 cents and take what I want.
I only download to sample before I buy.
I think a lot of people are doing that nowdays. That’s cool man. That’s a good honor system. I read some of the bulletin boards and blogs and shit. I think that’s a respectable thing people are doing. They’ll go out and grab it for free, and if they like it, they’ll buy it. I think there’s nothing wrong with that.
I don’t agree with those that just download and burn, and not buy.
People just dont get the idea that they are taking away… this is our job, this is our product, we are selling our product.We love what we do, we love to play live. I love music, I love rock’n’roll. It’s still my job though.
You have to support the artist so they can continue to make the tunes.
That’s right brother! I wish everybody thought that way. As far as doing it on a small level, or an independant level or an unsigned level, you can only give so much stuff away before it starts hurtin’. Then you gotta go out and get a real job.
Anything you want to say to the fans and the readers?
Hey man! We will see everybody on tour this summer or this coming year. We look forward to seeing everybody out there and catching up with old friends. We got the die hards that come out to every show when we come through town and we’ve gotten to know some people over the years, it’s always good to see some familiar faces out front.
Scotti & Celtic Bob, London, ON, 2003
Thanks to Tara at SPV for setting up the interview and to Sharkbait for transcribing.